“How often do you really plan to attack your market sector?”
When I ask senior leaders that question, at first they say, “We watch our sector carefully and always make sure we are aware of our competitor’s market moves.” Of course, you would be missing a trick if you didn’t — but how many times have you really overhauled your go-to-market strategy? And who in your business informs a major market pivot?
If customer experience (CX) and digital leaders are not key players in the boardroom, companies may be missing out on a really big opportunity.
The Age of Disruption, Through the Retail Lens
The current age of disruption affects every category of business. In this world, if your category has yet to be invaded by young agile businesses with startup money to fund them to success, it’s only a matter of time until they jump in and start taking your market share.
Think about retail. In 2018 and early 2019, a dozen household brand name clothing retailers such as Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource and Nine West Holdings filed for bankruptcy. In addition, several of the largest players in this category, such as Macy’s Inc., Kohl’s Corp. and Gap Inc., announced they are pivoting strategies by downsizing square footage, relocating and closing stores. This year Gap announced it will close 230 stores over the next two years as it moves away from mall-based shops.
But it’s not all bad news. The Gap’s new, smaller format stores located in commercial districts are converting foot traffic at a rate of two to two and a half times that of its mall stores, according to CEO Art Peck. “We are inserting a store into her life,” Peck said.
When we bring ecommerce into the equation, we learn that more than one third of the top 1000 apparel merchants has one or fewer stores, according to Internet Retailer.
Meet Your Customers, Wherever They Are
All of this is living proof of one of the key themes customer experience feedback tells us today: We have to meet our customers exactly where they are — both on and offline — and brands have to make it easy.
If a brand can become part of the daily life of its customer with minimal effort on the customer’s part, it has a strong chance of longevity and loyalty. And this is true not just for retail, but all sectors. This is the decade of minimizing customer effort and maximizing converted opportunity. So all CX and digital teams will play a massive part in steering the business towards the customer — and the importance of these people in the business will undoubtedly only grow larger.
A 3-Stage Approach to CX Programs
Developing a go-to-market CX program has a distinct, three-stage funnel, and it starts with knowing your customer.
The experience management culture is currently on fire with huge advancements in technological capability. Gartner predicts that more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations. Brands are moving rapidly from just collecting and analyzing customer feedback to CX programs which encompass every customer signal, both in terms of actual feedback but also behavior and understanding explicit and implicit expectations. Technology advancements are now able to use these signals in AI-driven platforms to predict customer satisfaction, spend, loyalty and lifetime value, to name just a few indicators of success.
Customers can now also be tracked across a business by matching an identifier from product to product or channel to channel, which provides a huge opportunity to cross- and up-sell. Experience management platforms will connect all of these signals and guide you to create or automate optimal experiences for each customer. Technology is capable of doing this now, but the CX and digital leaders must get approval from the board to enable them to really augment this.
Customer journey management is also evolving. It’s no longer just about the digital journey or the offline or contact center journey, it’s now about the omnichannel journey. We must start to include those journey elements which are key to our customer’s lives, that don’t even touch our brands, to create a true journey from the outside. This holistic journey will tell you where your customers are, and therefore where you need to be. Those outside customer journey maps can potentially be the blueprints to our evolving business model.